Do Wizards Cause SQL Server Problems?

The paradox-of-simplicity problem with SQL Server that I've discussed the past couple of weeks has sparked a number of interesting reader debates. One debate revolves around the value—and danger—of adding wizards to SQL Server to simplify complex tasks.

Most reader comments I've received are in response to the following reader quote: "We need to educate database professionals, but that's easier said than done. In SQL Server's case, the best practical answer is for Microsoft to continue making self-tuning and wizard improvements that are smarter than the average DBA. I think that's the biggest competitive edge SQL Server has over Oracle and DB2. Microsoft seems genuinely interested in making its database management system (DBMS) self-configuring and self-tuning. Someday, more organizations will wake up to the huge costs (perhaps mostly hidden) of employing a herd of highly paid Oracle and UNIX gurus to perform what should be the most basic of configuration and tuning tasks."

I agree with this reader's sentiments. But here's a different opinion from another reader: "I use both Oracle and SQL Server. I believe the wizards are the cause of SQL Server's problems. In some cases, they're a blessing, but in others they're the product's ruination. The wizards make it appear to be easy when it's not. Oracle's lack of wizards makes the DBA learn more and, therefore, better able to tune the SQL Server. Perhaps Microsoft should lay off the wizards and get DBAs back to the basics."

Many companies do get into trouble by underestimating the difficulty and level of effort required to professionally manage SQL Server. But deliberately making the product harder to use can't possibly be the solution.

Microsoft wizards get a bad rap. However, many SQL Server wizards do a great job of simplifying very complex activities and should receive more respect than their Office brethren. SQL Server 2000 contains more than 30 wizards when you include the core relational tools and supporting products such as English Query and Analysis Services. If you haven't already perused the list of new wizards, I encourage you to do so. Experienced DBAs will typically bypass the Create Login Wizard, but SQL Server's powerful Index Tuning Wizard has saved me hours of complex query analysis more than once.

Still, wizards aren't a panacea for poorly trained DBAs. It's imperative that your DBA is trained and knowledgeable and understands what's going on behind the wizard. Unfortunately, some companies don't learn that lesson until after something goes wrong. Where do you stand on the great wizard debate?

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